Copyright 2017 Maurin Picard
Ali and Zakia's story has been documented in the press worldwide (see PRESS(e) tab) or Google them. Both of them grew up in an agrarian village near Bamyan (site of the carved Buddhas dynamited by the Taliban in 2001). They are from traditionally different ethnicities and religious affiliations; they fell in love, and narrowly escaped several attempts of "honor killing" orchestrated by their families. After years of flight for their lives, they and their now 2 1/2-year old daughter were allowed to enter the United States only on an emergency immigration "parole" provision.
[NOTE: A book was published about their story, and has been translated into more than 10 languages - but neither Ali, Zakia nor anyone in their families or friends (nor this Foundation) receive any royalty payments on the sales of this book]
In the U.S., asylum seekers - unlike pre-approved refugees - receive almost no governmental financial aid or support. Asylum seekers depend entirely on the generosity of others until their asylum status will be officially granted. In the meantime: no social assistance, no medical insurance, no housing assistance.
In addition to a substantial number of individuals:
another U.S.-based foundation has been of extraordinary and major assistance to Ali and Zakia since before they left Afghanistan, and continues to help them to this day.
A major University Hospital has agreed to provide them with medical care at no cost to them.
A prominent Law firm in New York has laid the groundwork for their asylum application (pro bono), and a prominent University School of Law has endeavored to represent them (also pro bono) for their asylum hearings.
A highly respected school in Paris has incorporated the study of their case into its curriculum, which resulted in a spontaneous effort from its pupils to organize fundraising activities on their behalf.
Ali and Zakia are determined to share their story with high schools or universities anywhere. They believe that their testimony may help the world to understand, and perhaps act on, ancestral practices and situations which to this day are still prevalent in some parts of the world.
Ali and Zakia are dynamic young people eager and prepared for hard work, and have no intention whatsoever to remain dependent on others in perpetuity. Ali is already working to provide for his wife and young daughter, though - at minimum wages - he and his family cannot finish a single month without any kind of financial assistance.
On July 6, 2017, a not-for-profit organization who received donations on their behalf and helped Ali and Zakia since they arrived in the U.S.A., notified them that it would need to start curtailing financial and other aid starting August 2017.
The Ali and Zakia Foundation is itself a not-for-profit operated by unpaid volunteers who already have contributed thousands of dollars to their well-being. It has devoted countless hours in making this family familiar with local alphabets, numbers and customs. It's mission is to provide financial help until such time - or even beyond - their asylum application is approved, after which they will become eligible for governmental assistance. Should the fundraising prove to be so successful that donations exceed their immediate needs, then the remaining funds will be put into a Trust Fund for their children.
We are told that, because the U.S. immigration authorities are overburdened by the number of cases they are to rule on, the granting of asylum status may take 2 - 4 years.
This Foundation was incorporated in the State of Connecticut in May of 2017. (Click here to see the registration of the Foundation on the website of the Secretary of State of Connecticut.) It was set up in anticipation of the possible need of collecting and disbursing funds directly to the family, all the while encouraging them to become financially independent. The need for additional support has now arisen, and - if upon familiarizing yourself with Ali & Zakia's story - you feel inclined to help, we invite you to consider a donation of any size, and/or to share this website with anyone who you think might be interested or available to help. Help is needed right now, and every donation will be acknowledged by Ali and Zakia in writing , provided that any donor shares his or her contact information.
With the exception of fees charged by the financial organizations which facilitate on-line contributions (which we estimate to be in the <5% range), the balance will be used exclusively to help this family.
This Foundation may make exceptions for emergency situations, but ordinarily disbursements to the family will be distributed monthly as needs are identified, evaluated and approved, and each distribution will consist of a 50% of the distribution made out to Ali, the other 50% to his wife Zakia. Any and all fund-raised monies will eventually be turned over to them, and none of these monies will benefit anyone other than Ali & Zakia's family.
In its Articles of Incorporation, this Foundation has represented that "No part of the net earnings of the corporation shall inure to the benefit of, or be distributable to its members, directors, officers, or other private persons, except that the corporation shall be authorized and empowered to pay reasonable compensation for services rendered and to make payments and distributions in furtherance of the purposes set forth in these Articles."
We believe that donations from U.S. donors are considered as ordinary gifts, and not as tax-deductible contributions according to IRS regulations.